At my first Deseret News barbecue, we were whisked away to a courtyard with a mansion standing alongside it. I had seen this mansion before — it’s on the Triad Center property in Salt Lake City, where the Deseret News offices are also located. But it wasn’t until that day that I learned the truth.
A “haunted” mansion stands right next to the Deseret News.
The mansion is called the Devereaux House and it is Salt Lake City’s earliest mansion. The architect William Paul designed this two-story Victorian house. Complete with a vast estate featuring vineyards, stables and ornamental gardens, the Devereaux House quickly turned into a Utah establishment and a marker of Utah society, according to the Utah Historical Markers website, which is a project in collaboration with the Utah State Historical Society.
Who first owned the Devereaux House?
The house was first owned by William Staines, who sold it to Brigham Young’s son, Joseph Angell Young. Joseph Young owned the house from 1865 to 1867 before selling it to William Jennings, who generously expanded the house.
On June 21, 1930, the Deseret News described Jennings’ expansions: “He (Jennings) added to the original lot several pieces of reality in the same block and superseded the Staines cottage with this then pretentious mansion, building onto the cottage. While retaining and importing the rare orchards, flowers and shrubs of almost every kind, the place soon became noted for its beauty and the hospitality as a place where distinguished visitors were entertained with a lavish hand.”
Jennings was something of a mercantile mogul when he arrived to Salt Lake City. His businesses were all centralized in Eagle Emporium, which was sold and turned into the Zion Cooperative Mercantile Institution.
The rapid growth in Salt Lake City contributed to Jennings’ status as Utah’s first millionaire. He amassed his wealth through his mercantile businesses and his investments in transportation, according to the Utah Division of State History. He became the mayor of Salt Lake City from 1882 to 1885.
The house gets its French name from Jennings’ family estate in Yardley, England. After Jennings’ death in 1886, the house was sold in 1890 and became an oddity in Salt Lake City as the wealthy began to move to the Avenues and Capitol Hill instead.
The home later became an alcohol treatment center and was later restored and used as a reception center. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acquired the mansion in 2005 and periodically uses it for events.
Who or what haunts the Devereaux House?
There are two ghosts said to dwell at the Devereaux House.
A young girl is rumored to haunt the house. According to Utah Haunted Houses, people have seen a little girl who is dressed like she is from the 1850s lurking around the house. Some have claimed to have spotted her in the upstairs window as she sings or hums to herself.
She is reported to be seen in photographs as well. Some have speculated that she is one of Jennings’ daughters. While the jury’s still out if this ghosts exists or not, people claim that she’s more playful than scary. This little ghost girl is said to play tricks on the staff who work in the house, but is otherwise a mellow ghost.
People have claimed to see another spirit in the Devereaux House — and this one is supposedly not so mellow.
An adult woman is also rumored to lurk around the house. Some think that she may have once been a housekeeper, but she is said to be an aggressive ghost, according to KSL-TV. She is also said to protect the mansion from misuse by throwing things on the ground.
That’s not all the haunts this house may contain. The house is also rumored to have doors that close by themselves and peculiar cold spots. The Deseret News reported on these hauntings in 1959.
Whether or not you believe the Devereaux House is haunted, it’s a beautiful building that’s full of history. And it’s certainly worth walking by. This spooky house is currently used for occasional receptions and social gatherings — leaving plenty of time for the supposed ghosts to lurk around by themselves, but this mansion has even made cameos. “Dumb & Dumber” briefly shot outside this iconic Utah building.